Category Archives: economy

Design in action

That week was all about design. Whatever I touched, smelled or read everything was designed to be literally in action. Then I thought, do we realize how big influence design has on us?

I’ve been looking forward to take part inGDD this year edition of Gdynia Design Days . It has evolved from a-few-container’s-exhibition into a city-scale-event. Now it includes lectures, workshops, movies and it’s even got its own (I hope a permanent) location at Pomeranian Science and Technology Park.

From the numerous opportunities I chose lectures on networking, co-working and coaching. There was a speech of young&talented illustrator Patrycja Podkoscielny about her designing process. There was also an inspiring workshop on branding led by Bartek Kotowicz from studio engram.

Most of the events were really crowded and you could notice that most of the attendees were students or graduates of the Academies of Fine Arts or various university design faculties. The second biggest audience group were entrepreneurs and free lancers dealing with innovation and arts and the rest of the participants was a melting pot of a variety of professions, jobs and interests starting from construction project managers through children psychiatrists, fashion & garden designers to facility managers. All of them more or less like me, people who heard the call of modern design and the need to meet, to network and to exchange ideas.

Here is just a hint from what you could get inspired at the exhibition. These are just two of the awarded ideas which I liked the most for their simplicity and effectiveness:

wózek
Folding trolley for quick city sales.
wiatrak
Beach bench/lantern powered by the sea wind

It was an intense week of learning what design means in our life and space around us. I desperately wanted to go out with my friends to enjoy our company and discover few new bars. One of them was the recently opened Wtedy. What a surprise when entered the toilet zone, where I saw a “tile lady” welcoming you subtly but firmly. Trying to unveil the curtain into design thinking world of hmm design thinking? Good, but what about a good two readings example:

2015-07-04 00.28.25 (3)Change by Design by Tim Brown or Design for the Real World by Victor Papanek

So hereby I declare and also call you to think while you do your everyday job and live your everyday life.

Put design into action while you create, while you shape your surrounding matter, space and time.

Suburban nightmare

Last week was a kind of nightmare. My car was broken. Well, it was actually immobilized, which occurred after a thorough mechanical /technical/computer investigation.  What happened in the meantime was a week of hanging around with public transport…

Imagine when I moved to Gdansk six years ago I was so convinced not to buy a car. When I used to live in Wroclaw for almost 13 years I never had a car.  I just didn’t need it. A bus stop in front of my house and a stop in front of my office 35 mins later. That was all I needed for living. But when I lost my third pair of shoes just because of those morning walks to my new office in Gdansk I just gave up and got one, 6 years old Peugeot 406…. Yes, a brave new world opened to me after 3 months of a suburban “imprisonment”. All of a sudden I could easily visit my new friends or go for swimming, movies, shopping, haircut, post office, ATM and all these things without waiting hours for the only bus passing my neighborhood every 30 mins.

But now, without my car a 15-20 mins drive became inevitable 1h journey to school, to health center, to yoga… Well, no, yoga no. I gave up yoga for a moment, as well as haircuts, mall shopping, cinemas, friends etc. Thanks God the walking distance to my office hasn’t changed a yard…

I started to desperately miss again living in the downtown, from where going to work  every day could have been a book or newspaper reading pleasure or just a simple observation of other passengers and pedestrians through the windows. So what if I moved to Wrzeszcz for example?  Would 80% of my red line destinations (for which I always go by car) became green by changing my car to public transportation? I checked it and to most of my places you can get by bus, tram or a train leaving every 10 mins. Have a look at blurred (apologies) draft here:

Transport

 

So why do we keep ourselves in these golden cages of suburbia, where for walking out the dog you need a pair of  boots, torch, a night vision device and all this survival stuff? Now take a family of two children and add as much red lines as you can imagine – these are your never ending pickups to kindergarten, school, swimming pool, friends birthdays, shopping, shopping and shopping.
What a nightmare.

 

The Plague of Plenty

Problem statement

Good and sunny morning in my kitchen. There are hundreds of spices in the drawers, plenty of groceries in the fridge, couple of shelves filled with cans, bags and boxes and I am staring at the stove and thinking of what to eat. Eventually I take the bread with butter and sliced chicken with maybe few leaves of a lettuce. Like every morning…

Then when I finish my breakfast I go upstairs and open the wardrobe. There I stand still for few minutes to arrange my work outfit for today. Instead of new ironed shirt and new pair of chinos I grab a pair of jeans, polo shirt and the jersey. Almost the same as yesterday but with different colors and with definitely the same shoes. With the wardrobe packed with trousers, sweaters, t-shirts, and shoes I hardly ever wear 70% of them. So where’s the point to keep them all? Shall I wait for those rare occasions that will never occur or for the vintage comeback from the 90’s (my oldest t-shirt I’ve got is from the ’96…)

Then in the evening when I’m back from work and I want to have few minutes in silence with just one of my books I turn to the bookshelves. Each time I promise myself to read one of those untouched since I have bought them or got them as a present. I counted my library two weeks ago and there were 1206 books in the room and circa about 40% which I have never opened. When I am going to read them all, especially with the new books coming every week or so?

Question

How it come that with so many receipts in the internet we still eat the same things every day or at least every week? Is it a kind of a dreadful dressing routine or emotional attachment to those few quotidian clothes we wear? And is it just the laziness that keeps us out of the unread stories which are catching dust on the bookshelves?

Solution

Well, my cooking attitude was born in the 90’s when all we had for most of the dinners were potatoes, sausage and stewed cabbage.
I will remember for the end of my life those mid 90’s crisis breakfasts and suppers with a slice of bread with margarine and thinnest slice of tomato. I’m struggling with it even now while being called a minimalist or a kitchen layman whereas it is just the sense of unnecessary excess that causes confusion on my table. This attitude has secretly proliferated  into my wardrobe and onto my bookshelves. Therefore from now on I promise to buy only groceries from a snag list, to donate my wardrobe dust catchers to a charity and to free my unread books to a local library or to my friends and family.

Motto for next month:

Let me free from the excess, from this plague of plenty.

What if society is a tropical forest?

People can use their hands and skills in many areas starting from handicraft, arts, services, care, farming, digging in the ground to picking up mushrooms or flowers and even in soldiering…Throughout the centuries thousands of such activities had been creating diverse and dynamic societies around the globe and across civilizations.
Now imagine you take the land from the farmers and give it to intense and big farming, you force the shopkeepers to close their workshops or stalls by opening new shopping malls, you pollute the gardens and orchards with toxic emissions and you destroy the factories or move them to other countries. What happened is you just removed many bricks from a wall thus made it weaker.
Even a light finger touch can make this fragile construction to fall into pieces or in other words a single spark can ignite this haystack of anger, frustration and hopelessness.

Now lets look at a forest. We all have been thought at school that
a healthy and strong forest consists of many trees species, bushes, grass, fungus and humus. Than on the other side we have human planted forests with very few type of trees if not with one which are extremely vulnerable to pests, wind and fire. Once destroyed it takes them ages to bring back a diverse life on its place. Anyway the factor of destruction is necessary to produce a new and rich ecosystem.

In our age of high unemployment especially among young people, with numerous examples of offshoring , moving machines, production lines and whole technologies to legally unbounded countries, where the employees are paid beggarly wages do we need a kind of destruction in order to bring back the natural balance of
a society? Can one use the parallel of a tropical forest to a human being society? If you consider humans as an ecosystem, why shouldn’t we try? We are animals though, so theoretically these rules apply to human race also.

Once we assume the above we must be aware of such a turning point may occur any time. Whether in form of a revolution or mass migrations, epidemic or other natural catastrophe we must be prepared. Do anything possible to keep our society in good condition, let the people use their natural skills and talents, free the spirit of human initiative and entrepreneurship.

And it is happening right now. Look around you and help all these city movements to preserve old professions, recipes, green areas, bicycle roads, children playgrounds, public spaces available to everyone and those who create any single workplace that can use the work of human hands and create beautiful things that a society needs or can use it for its own wellbeing and protection.

Be active, thing about your skills that you can share with others.
Be a living part of the unique tropical forest that your society constitutes.

A letter from the past. 25th Anniversary of Polish Freedom


This morning I was watching Barack Obama driving through the streets of Warsaw to celebrate with Polish people the 25th Anniversary of the Freedom and first free elections behind the Iron Curtain that happened on the 4th of June 1989. What was I doing that time? I was only 13 years old, finishing primary school, thinking of my future education and witnessing the Wind of Change blowing throughout the European prairies. So when I came back from work I went straight upstairs and opened my memoirs box (yep, I’m sentimental 🙂
What I’ve found was a bunch of letters I once wrote to my beloved friend, who was taken by her parents on a summer trip and to Greece and escaped from there later to Canada, right before those first elections. Her mother told her in that bus to Athens, that she would never see her friends and grandmother again…

Raciborz, 31st October 1989

Hello!

Bogna, I am sorry for not replying for such a long time but it was not my fault, its just that nothing is worth to write about. October was very, very hot with temperatures up to 31 Celsius! Polish television is getting better and better, there is still no English at schools because there are few English teachers, so I went to an English course and I now need to pay 37,420 zlotys per 94 classes.

Bogna, I am so, so curious what is going on there in Canada, how is the TV, how is your city, what are your plans for the future?! So let me start about myself.
I have graduated the school year 88/89 with very good results. I am now in the 7th grade (7d), my master teacher is Mrs Piasecka and half of the class is new. They came from 6e which was another athletic class and guess what, they just don’t know anything! I didn’t go to the School of Sports eventually and I think that was the right decision.
Now I can spend my time at different classes and courses like  English, chemistry and in general I have a lot of spare time and almost not getting ill, which I am happy for.
After the primary school I would love to continue in High School, preferably in the Human Arts profile or biology-chemistry but its not decided yet whether we would stay or we would emigrate to Germany for good (we’ve got all the passports already and anyway there are only us, uncles from the 9th floor and both grandparents who stayed in Poland so maybe we will meet abroad?)

I spent my summer holidays in Zagorze Slaskie, at that hotel from Rafako, my father’s company. I wanted also to go to DDR but I was too late with my application, and there were no places left.

So as you know in Poland we have a PRESIDENT (hi hi hi) Jaruzelski and I am not sure if that’s gonna change anything for good since the ham costs ca. 30,000 zloty, the sausage from 3,000 to 40,000 zloty, one pack of matches is 25 zlotys, ice cream almost 200 zlotys, bread 1,500 zlotys, bread-rolls 150 zlotys and butter 5,000!!! Literally every day the prices go higher and higher like crazy, seriously! Before we leave Poland I don’t know whats going to happen…

Nothing has changed in Raciborz, well maybe apart from that our blocks are not from Rafako anymore, but they belong to a company that bought them from Rafako for a song … So as in our backyard and there are also changes in the city. A lot of new blocks are being constructed (even next to our school) they also build a new post office and telephone exchange building which I hope will eventually give us the long expected phone number!

On our backyard more and more people are leaving for I don’t know where and there are also new people coming so in the end you really don’t know who’s still there are who are these new people. Once upon a time everybody was saying hello or good morning but now forget about it and there’s even no smile! (well, with few exceptions maybe).

I would like to write you about the winter holidays I had in Zagorze Slaskie. So, it was super, super, really cool and very super simply the best winter holidays I have ever been to! We had a lot of excursions, discotheques, movies, great teachers and of course the people over there – a big bunch of good friends! When going back home some of them had tears in their eyes… On the very last day we had an art exhibition of all our art works and the hotel director told us that we were the most joyfull and singing group she had ever hosted at her place!

Few last words for the end with greetings from folks from the backyards and our neighbors: Asia, Ola and Madzia. Please give my best regards to your parents, your sister and your little brother.

I look forward for your letter.  Bye!

Fabian

Discovering Future in the Past

Have you ever felt this enlightenment, after few dozens of pages, when something you were suspecting all of a sudden becomes clear and obvious and since then you know you learned the Reason?

This amusement accompanied me throughout 600 pages of Jan Sowa’s delightful book “Fantomowe ciało króla” (Phantom King’s Body”) At first you notice a strange title but after a while you know what this phantom means, as well as who’s the King’s body. Yes, its about a murder, phantom murder to be correct, of a King in the Kingdom of Poland in the late XVIIIth century. It is a story of the Fall of once the biggest country in Europe – the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth…

It is a story about how our Middle-Eastern Europe has been self-colonized by its aristocracy and later on colonized by the neighboring states. Fascinating reading on how the Roman’s Empire legacy continue to influence entire Europe which until today is divided by the Elbe riverrun.

You also come up to the questions like: Into what will develop the capitalism? or How to release our creativity? or Is all what we have given for ever and ever?

One of the most interesting analyses is the one regarding the post-colonialism in Eastern Europe . Once you read it you become to understand more of what is going on right now in Ukraine and Crimea. Current situation of Mid-Eastern Europe countries can be easily explained from the perspective of the post-colonial discourse and thanks to its analytic methods.

If you want to know how to overcome our fate and how to position ourselves beyond the periphery of Western World? It a book for you. Challenging & recommended reading.

Read more about Jan Sowa’s book here

A Silesian Mansion…

I’ve been dreaming about this Silesian Mansion House… Not once, twice, but many times.
Each time I walk these wooden stairs up to the spacious and bright ball rooms with wooden floors and big windows opening to the park behind the castle. 19th century floor is creaking delicately and when I get closer to the window and open it the fresh air comes in together with the birds tweets…

In 1989 when the State Owned Farms were liquidated the wind of change had also reached Rudnik Mansion House.
My auntie, who used to live in that house as one of the Farm’s Accountant, emigrated within few months to Germany through the opened borders with her sons and daughter. Right after the inhabitant left the apartments the Mansion was sold immediately by the Agricultural Real Estate Agency to an unknown private person and that was the beginning of the end… Later on the Mansion was sold to a Foundation which was deliberately established to rip out some mortgage money from these still in good condition buildings and that was it. Today after almost 15 years, the interiors are completely devastated with almost nothing left but bare floors and walls. The roof starts leaking as somebody started to collect the roof tiles…

The local community claims that the situation is hopeless since the Foundation is in liquidation status and there are no moves from it in order to sell the property. Anyway the local authorities somehow managed to localize two of the Foundation members of the board but just by talking to them the community has been convinced that these two people were just substitutes in order to blur the real owners of the Mansion, who most probably left the country with the money years ago…

There are only two possibilities which may help to rescue the once beautiful property, either the creditors will call for their money/property back or the Agency who sold the buildings will try to take them, but in order to do so it wants a big favor from the community and wants to sell their other ruins from the neighboring area…Real Gordian knot. Will anybody find the Gordian or is there no hope?

I had a dream…the last one of the series was that I had established a Foundation and in the next twink of an eye the Mansion was full of young people, running around and painting the walls, decorating the rooms, planting azaleas in the garden…

Believe it or not but that dream happened to me before I knew about the REAL Foundation!

The same foundation/mortgage/escape scheme happened to hundreds or even thousands of Mansion Houses across Poland.
If anybody can help the Rudnik’s Community let me know.
I promise, my dream will become real soon…